Channel accounting

July 9, 2009

I’d been asked a question off blog about how the various figures apparently showing the incrementally lesser costs of face-to-face, to telephone, to web, that keep cropping up, were calculated.  Since this discussion is becoming more common and seems to rely upon mythology as much as science, I thought I’d try to briefly fill out some of the blanks.

 I did a quick survey of some of the figures being quoted:

  NWEGG Lambeth Socitm (min) Socitm (max)
Face-to-face £7.81 £1.66 £4.83 £9.56
Telephone £4.00 £0.85 £1.28 £5.57
Touchtone   £0.09    
Web £0.17 £0.09 £0.22 £0.56
Payment network   £0.50    
Direct debit   £0.02    

 The methodology used by NWEGG in association with CIPFA was documented and published by the CLG in March 2008 and entitled –

Delivering Efficiency: Understanding the Cost of Local Government Services

 and can be found here:

 http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/730431.pdf

 Socitm employ CIPFA Accounting Code for Best Value as the basis for collecting costs, which should mean that the NWEGG and Socitm figures are on a par. CIPFA charge £850 for a copy – http://secure.cipfa.org.uk/cgi-bin/CIPFA.storefront/EN/product/AC073_

– must be a best seller at that price!

 I do have a slide with the Lambeth calculation and I would say that looks like common sense, too.

 So, why the differences? As was discussed at a meeting I attended with Socitm a while ago, an authority who had done their own sums found vast differences between services. This does make sense. Not all services are equal, displaying planning information on the web is easier than displaying benefits information and is likely to be accessed more often, too. So it probably depends which services one chooses to account for.

 My conclusion – get everyone to pay by direct debit wherever possible!